Things did not start moving as quickly as Russell and I had expected. We thought that he would be rushed into treatments immediately, but it took almost three weeks for any treatments to begin. Russell was set up with a treatment plan of 33 radiation treatments and 6 chemo treatments. Running all at the same time with no break in the 33-day cycle.
Once the treatments began, it was a quick and devastating downward spiral to Russell’s health. It seemed as if overnight his weight went from 182 lbs. down to 150 lbs. His cognitive responses and ability to reason were diminished as well. At one point, he asked me where I worked although we have been friends for years. He even referred to me as Beverly and my name is Terri. I took him to the hospital for disorientation, where he tried to sign himself out because he believed his friend John was there to visit him, and the nurses were refusing to let John visit. John was never there.
Russell fell on three separate occasions, and spent several hours on the bathroom floor until I happened to stop by to check on him. Another evening, I found him asleep on the couch and noticed an odd movement of his head. He was vomiting in his sleep and was aspirating on his vomit. I sat him up to check his airway, and thank God, he was able to breathe again.
During this time, Russell has driven himself to chemo and radiation for the most part; I took him when my work allowed it, but unfortunately it wasn’t always possible. He tried to set up transportation with the University of Miami’s Lyft Program that drives people who have cancer to their appointments. The first time they drove him they left him at the University of Miami. After hours of treatment and without a ride to his home 45 minutes away; he ended up taking the metro rail, and lastly, the bus to get home. This wouldn’t be a problem for a healthy man, but Russell was anything but healthy at this point. This was grueling for a person who could barely walk or stand. From that point forward Russell drove himself, which ultimately resulted in three separate car accidents.
The physical and financial ramifications of cancer are beyond anything he could have ever imagined.
Russell went for his cancer screening after completion of the chemo and radiation, and was given the unfortunate news that the tumor remains. The doctor recommends another 33 radiation treatments and 6 chemo treatments. So, he begins again. Russell is a fighter and won’t give up. He plans to beat cancer and he will, we are sure of it.
In closing, I would like to tell you about the character of Russell. He is a soft-spoken guy with a dry sense of humor. The kind of guy who goes out of his way to help others. Russell has
participated in many different organizations. He used to do fundraising for the YMCA, and Volunteer at Junior Achievement before his illness. I remember last year, a friend was dying and they family was too overcome with grief to think about Thanksgiving, but Russell made the turkey, stuffing, trimmings, and dessert and took it over to them. That family was overwhelmed with gratitude not so much for the food but rather the act of caring and compassion expressed through his actions. That one action is the single embodiment of Russell’s character.
I know there are many people out there who are caring and kind, just like Russell. I pray that you read this and reach out to help him if you can. He is financially and physically overwhelmed by this situation. Thank you in advance to everyone who does read this.
Russell’s Dear Friend,
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